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When...Ruled The World   Print

BBC Online
May 3, 2002

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BBC ONE jumps into the time tunnel of popular culture with a brand new series. Through music, films, tv and fashion, When... Ruled The World discovers the days when Disco; Rock; Shoulder Pads; Muscles and Hippies were the height of good taste and demonstrates why each one captured a moment and made it all its own...

Kicking off the series is When Disco Ruled the World (Wednesday 6 March, BBC ONE) which explores the sounds, stars, and fashions behind the major soundtrack of the mid to late 70s. From the first disco records of George McCrae, disco diva Gloria Gaynor and the sexy sounds of Donna Summer to the mighty Chic, the wonderful world of Earth Wind and Fire and the OTT stage act that was Village People. Added in the mix is Saturday Night Fever, the film that changed disco dancing for ever and the way people spent their Saturday nights; the hedonistic excesses of Studio 54; not to mention those disco dancing competitions on prime-time tv... Pop Idol eat your heart out!

This was an era which created magnificent music, mirror balls and medallions, and ensured that, love it or hate it, disco was impossible to ignore.

Interviewees include George McCrae, Gloria Gaynor, Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, Nile Rodgers of Chic, The Real Thing, Tina Charles and the first interview with all four sisters from Sister Sledge for 10 years.

From 1970 to the mid 80s, When Rock Ruled The World (Wednesday 13 March, BBC ONE) celebrates the unavoidable appeal of the loudest, fastest, heaviest music on the planet, a time when everyone wanted to own an electric guitar, if only to turn the volume up to eleven. Featuring the extravagance of Led Zeppelin; the power of Deep Purple; the progressive indulgence of Hawkwind; the intensity of Black Sabbath and the band that defined 'excess all areas', Motley Crue. All the extremes of rock are here — the long hair, the air guitar, the leather, the cider and snakebite that were part of an age when rock pumped out an earth-quaking racket that blasted the dandruff from a thousand mullets.

Interviewees include Alice Cooper, Lemmy of Motorhead, Vic Reeves, Ozzy Osbourne, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, Slash of Guns n Roses, Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of Status Quo.

When Shoulderpads Ruled The World (Wednesday 20 March, BBC ONE) glorifies everything 1980s, the "go for it" decade, when big was best. It was a time of excess, glamour and gloss, when if you had it you absolutely flaunted it and everyone 'walked with shoulderpads'. There was no greater inspiration for everything 80s than the American supersoaps — Dallas and Dynasty. Dallas provided TV's greatest cliff-hanger ever when the nation was obsessed with Who Shot JR? Dynasty gave us the biggest shoulderpads of the 80s, and the ultimate superbitch Alexis Carrington (played by Joan Collins). And here in Blighty there was a home grown supersoap — but rather than oil it was set in the unlikely world of boatbuilding — Howard's Way. Greed was celebrated in the movie Wall Street and men were inspired to push up their sleeves by Don Johnson in Miami Vice.

Interviewees include from Dallas "JR" — Larry Hagman; "Cliff Barnes" — Ken Kercheval; "Lucy Ewing" — Charlene Tilton; "Kristen" — Mary Crosby; and from Dynasty — "Sable Colby" — Stephanie Beacham; "Adam Carrington" — Gordon Thomson; "Steven Carrington" — Jack Coleman. Also including supersoap fans Terry Wogan and Dale Winton; from the movie Wall Street, Martin Sheen and from Miami Vice "Tubbs" — Philip Michael Thomas.

When The Terminator met Rambo is the story at the heart of When Muscles Ruled the World (Wednesday 3 April, BBC ONE), the time when Arnie took on Sly in a superb exhibition of bulging biceps, rippling thighs and mighty pecs. There was incredible rivalry between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Italian stallion Sylvester Stallone to be the biggest and the best muscle hero in Hollywood and attract the attention of the same woman — Amazonian Brigette Nielsen. Women action heroes muscled in too — when Sigourney Weaver played the lead in the movie Alien. And not forgetting when muscles went pop — with Diana Ross' I Want Muscles, Olivia Newton John's Let's Get Physical and Spandau Ballet's Musclebound.

The show goes back to an earlier era to find how the muscle obsession began, starting with spinach hungry cartoon hero Popeye and then the Incredible Hulk. It was a time of DIY muscles at home with the Charles Atlas programme, while cult heroes were made from Britain's strongest man Geoff Capes and Superstars squat thrust king Brian Jacks.

Interviewees include Jackie Stallone, Lou Ferrigno from the Incredible Hulk, Brigette Nielsen, Geoff Capes, Brian Jacks, Actor Richard Crenna — "Colonel Trautman" in Rambo, Tony Holland — "Opportunity Knocks" Muscleman, Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, "Wolf" from Gladiators.

As seen through the blurred eyesight of the coolest cats of the sixties, When Hippies Ruled The World (Wednesday 10 April, BBC ONE) takes a trip back to the end of the psychedelic Sixties — the dreams, trips, movies, and music — to a time when love was all that was needed. From 1967 to 1970, the hippie revolution gave us great anthems, great events, great sex and great big afghan coats. The music was by The Doors; queen of the hippies Joni Mitchell; and the world was set alight by the number one hit Fire by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Hippies dropped out at the biggest festival, Woodstock, and were turned on by LSD and free love. The whole experience was literally set on film by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Easy Rider while the hippest of all looked East and followed in the trail of the Beatles to India.

Interviewees include singer Joni Mitchell — in her first ever British TV interview; Ray Manzarek of The Doors; musician Arthur Brown; actor Dennis Hopper; actress Susan George; Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash; Nigel Planer (Neil from The Young Ones); Alan Whicker; Hippies Wavy Gravy and Mick Farren; DJ John Peel.


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